Limpag: Team Naning: Iron men in Ironman

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Friday, August 1, 2014


A DAY after Typhoon Yolanda hit Tacloban, my friend Ted Palami said he did a triathlon of sorts just to see if other family members were safe and to let others know that they were safe.

He had to walk, run and bike around the debris splattered around the city.

And during the storm itself, he had to swim from one house to another to get to safety when the storm surge hit.

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It’s the same story, too, for swimmer Francis Redrendo and runner Ray Neil Caminong.

We’ve seen all the images, the videos and read the stories and in the backs of our mind we’ve all asked, “Would we have survived if we were there?”

Now, the three are joining a triathlon event, just nine months removed from Yolanda.

Donning the Team Naning’s colors, Redrendo will hit first for the swim leg, and Ted—whose military doctor brother infected him with the triathlon bug—will go next for the bike segment and Ray Neil will be the anchor for the team that just months ago, weren’t even sure of joining the event.

You see, even getting to train was a struggle.

Ted said that their swimmer Francis lived in San Jose, Tacloban, which took the brunt of the storm surge and for weeks, he was so traumatized by the event that getting into the open water was such a dreaded undertaking. It took him months to overcome that trauma.

“He used to join local duathlon events, 10 years or more ago. Murag comeback ni niya and that’s why excited siya until Yolanda struck,” Ted told me.

When Yolanda struck, dreams like finishing the Ironman become trivial and give way to something more basic, survival. So training was forgotten.

And when some sense of normalcy settled in, training was still difficult.

“It’s hard to do long rides here with the road conditions and heavy traffic (heavy equipment and trucks for relief, etc.),” he said.

Finding time, too was difficult as aside from time for work and family, they haven’t forgotten their kababayans.

“Like our runner, (he) works for one of the many international NGOs here and sometimes, they travel for a week to Samar or other places na hardly hit also,” he said.

For Ted, he went serious biking with a friend for a trainer early June, barely two months ago and now, the three are here in Cebu, a day removed from their first triathlon event.

Yep, they went all through that to get here for their first triathlon event. And it’s not just any triathlon event, it’s the Cobra Ironman!

They faced and passed the sternest test any man could face during and in the aftermath of Yolanda, now its the Cobra Ironman that’s next for these guys of steel.

That’s Team Naning—Francis the swimmer, Ted the biker and Ray the runner.

Their team name, by the way, is taken from the sports bar the Palami family operates but, as Ted says, it could also mean that just to get here, “naning kamot gyud sila.”

Welcome to Cebu and good luck on your Ironman debut.

(mikelimpag@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 02, 2014.

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